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Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Virtual Centre for Ocean Satellite Salinity

Surface Salinity from Space: A Canadian Perspective

Satellites now have the potential to measure  Ocean Salinity. This is of interest to a number of  different groups.

Both salinity and temperature are key physical oceanographic variables that have been routinely measured at sea from the earliest research oceanographic expeditions (see history section).

Over the past two decades, it has been demonstrated that sea surface salinity (SSS) can be measured from space using microwave radiation. Such remote measurement techniques use low frequency microwaves (0.5 to 2 GHz) which are sensitive to the emissivity of sea-water, which in turn varies with salt content.

The first demonstrations of remote measurements of salinity involved mapping coastal SSS using aircraft L-band radiometers (a radiometer is a receiver adapted to measure low levels of energy). More recently, different groups have successfully explored the potential for making such measurements via satellites. Both the US and European Space agencies are now funding instrument concept phases for the remote measurements of ocean salinity with the next generation of polar orbiting satellites. Anticipated launch dates are in the latter half of this decade (2007 - 2010).

This website serves to:

Inform the space community about why salinity is important and how the oceanographic community currently uses salinity data


Inform the oceans community about the status and progress of space programs that promise to deliver ocean salinity data.

As a Canadian based site, funded by the CSA, these webpages identify and highlight special issues affecting SSS remote sensing of Canadian waters since Canada is bordered by 3 oceans, the North Atlantic, the North Pacific and the Arctic Ocean and such waters are generally cold, influenced by low salinity runoff, and are often seasonally ice covered.

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Bedford Institute of Oceanography P.O. 1006 Dartmouth, N.S. B2Y 4A2
  Last Updated :05/18/2006 Important Notices